Tips & Prevention
Eye Health Information for Adults Under 40
By the time we reach our early 20s, our eyes and vision system are fully developed. Most people find their vision and eye health generally remain stable throughout their mid-20s and 30s. One exception: Women, who often find vision, can change during pregnancy.
At this stage of life, it is important to establish good eye health habits for a lifetime of healthy vision. For example, people with diabetes or pre-diabetes need to have regular eye exams to make sure they don’t develop diabetic eye disease. A big part of diabetic eye care is working with your doctors to control weight and blood sugar, as well as blood pressure and cholesterol.
Preventing Eye Injuries at Home
Eye injuries are a major source of eye problems for young adults. About three out of four eye injuries happen to men aged 18 to 40. Nearly half of all eye injuries happen in or around the home, most often during improvement projects or sports. The good news is that nearly all eye injuries can be prevented by using protective eyewear. Every household needs to have at least one pair of certified safety glasses on hand.
Vision Correction Surgery
Eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions change only slightly or not at all during your 20s and 30s. For that reason, if you are considering having refractive surgery to correct nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) or astigmatism, this would be a reasonable time to do it, if your ophthalmologist agrees. Like any kind of surgery, refractive procedures like LASIK, SMILE and others have both benefits and risks. Talk with your ophthalmologist and research your options carefully before making a decision.
When to Have Regular Eye Exams
Adults under 40 years old whose eyes are healthy and vision is good should have a complete exam by an ophthalmologist every five to 10 years. Or remember it this way: have a complete eye exam once in your 20s and twice in your 30s.
There are some exceptions to this recommendation. If you wear contact lenses, see your eye specialist once a year. If you have diabetes or a family history of eye disease, talk with your ophthalmologist to see how often your eyes should be examined.
No matter what your age, if you have an eye infection, injury, eye pain or see unusual flashes, floaters or patterns of light in your field of vision, call your ophthalmologist.
Eye Health Information for Adults 40 to 65
Between the ages of 40 and 65, our eyes can go through significant changes.
The most common change most people notice is the need to hold reading materials farther away from their eyes. Called presbyopia, nearly everyone experiences this increasing farsightedness that usually begins in their late-30s to mid-40s. The eye’s lens (located behind the pupil) becomes less flexible with age, making it harder to read and perform other near tasks. If presbyopia is left uncorrected, you may find your eyes tire easily and you may get headaches.
Most people need reading glasses or another vision correction strategy to deal with presbyopia. Also, people who have cataracts removed (usually a bit later in life) may choose to have intraocular lenses (IOLs) that correct for presbyopia.
Catch Early Signs of Eye Disease Now
By age 65, one in three Americans will have a vision-impairing eye disease. However, early signs of these eye diseases can begin in midlife, though they may not be noticeable right away. The earlier these diseases are found and treatment begins, the better the chance of preserving good vision.
It’s very important to get a baseline comprehensive eye exam at age 40, even for people who have no symptoms or known risk factors for eye disease. A comprehensive exam will look for signs of:
- diabetic retinopathy
- age-related macular degeneration
People who are diabetic or pre-diabetic need to have annual eye exams and work with their doctors to control their weight, blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol.
Eye Health Information for Adults Over 65
As we move into our senior years, regular eye exams with an ophthalmologist become even more important for preserving sight.
Presbyopia usually starts in our early 40s and can increase with age. Even people who see well and who don’t have age-related eye diseases may have vision changes that might not be obvious. For instance, it may gradually become harder to distinguish an object from its background when they are the same color (like a white coffee cup sitting on a white table). This is called loss of “contrast sensitivity.”
For seniors, the ability to see well in different lighting may change. When going from a well-lit area to one with poor light (or the other way around), your eyes may take longer to adjust and focus, or they don’t adjust very well.
Problems adjusting to light and dark can make driving more difficult, especially at night or in the rain. Driving can be even more challenging when eye diseases affect your peripheral (side) vision or increase your sensitivity to glare.
For aging drivers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends the following safety measures:
- Take a driving course designed specifically for seniors
- Drive during daylight hours
- Reduce speed
- Be extra-cautious at intersections
It’s important to have a complete eye exam with your ophthalmologist every year or two after age 65.
Keeping up with regular eye exams allows your ophthalmologist to catch problems early. The sooner a problem is detected, the more likely it is that treatment will be successful.
Adults age 65 and older see their ophthalmologist for a complete eye exam every year or every other year.
During regular eye exams, your ophthalmologist will check for age-related eye diseases, including:
- age-related macular degeneration
- diabetic retinopathy
An interesting fact: ophthalmologists can identify other health problems such as diabetes or stroke through eye exams.
Services We Do Not Offer
- We do not have an optical department in our office.
- Except in unusual circumstances, we do not dispense prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses. We refer to a number of excellent optometrists throughout the Coachella Valley for these services.